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How to create perfect packaging design.

So, how do you go about creating the perfect packaging design? Something that draws the consumer in and allows them to navigate all your products and portfolio with ease. Importantly, packaging that conveys why your product is better than the competition.

Here are our golden rules for creating the best, most successful packaging design for a brand.

1. Be single-minded:

If you are launching a product with an array of consumer benefits it’s always wise to focus on one ‘killer claim’ rather than try to hammer home absolutely everything on the front of pack. This just creates visual clutter and confusion for consumers. Rather than attract attention, the pack ends up looking like a ‘pound shop’ window!

Consumers only spend around 3-4 seconds make up their minds when scanning a pack, so it is important to get the key messaging across in the most efficient way possible.

2. Be different:

Communicating the core unique selling point is paramount for any brand. It’s no good shouting that you are the tastiest food product out there. Wouldn’t every brand want to say that? I mean, try thinking of a brand that shouts “Hi everyone, we’re quite average!”

Focus on what the product does best. It could be an ingredient, the way it is made or a service that only it offers.

3. Don’t be afraid of the blank bits:

Negative space is good. It’s your friend. Create a perfect moment of calm on pack to let the brand colour shine through and shout on shelf. Its not about trying to wedge some claim / comment / benefit /offer into any gaps just because it looks like you have space.

4. Own the shelf:

It is paramount that any new pack design works at fixture. Allocating a large portion of the pack to the brand colour or logo creates impactful signposting and draws the consumers eye.

If you try to shoehorn too much onto the pack, you risk disappearing into the shelf with the mass of messages from the rest of the competition.

This doesn’t mean removing other salient pieces of information, remember a pack is a three-dimensional item, there are multiple faces on which to convey messages and introduce a hierarchy of information.

5. Make sure your logo passes the ‘Mars Bar’ test:

“What” I hear you say? This isn’t some convoluted agency ‘trademark process’ is it?

Grab yourself a Mars Bar. Cover over part of the logo and look at what is remaining. It’s still clearly a Mars bar logo. You know that. The black, the red, the gold and the letter form, all convey the strong brand cues and messaging.

Building in ownable elements creates a fantastic visual shortcut and moves it beyond just a typeface. This creates instant recognition by the consumer and allows you to utilise your key asset successfully on multiple touchpoints.

6. Be consistent:

Wherever a logo or pack element is recreated on other products, size and positioning should be kept consistent. This uniformity creates instant recognition and authority and provides powerful blocking at fixture. If you allocate 30% of the pack to the brand logo, try to keep this relationship across all products in the portfolio.

7. Create a robust pack architecture:

Whilst this may sound like the approach you would take when designing a municipal car park, pack architecture is hugely important in defining which part to the pack holds which piece of information.

Having a robust brand area and variant area helps with the previous point on maintaining consistency. It also aids navigation for the consumer. Pack architecture should also create a perfect line of action to guide the consumer from one piece of information to the next.

Establishing a robust architecture also allows for easily extending the range into other variants and NPD.

8. Follow nature:

There are plenty of examples in nature and also classic architecture where the golden ratio has been maintained. The golden ratio details the perfect proportions and positioning of elements in relation to one another.

Whether it’s the spiral of a seashell, or the curling shoots of a seedling, these powerful principles dictate much of natures beauty and have been adopted throughout the centuries in classical architecture, painting and are even seen in facial symmetry.

9. Catch their eye:

Be different. If all the competition are green then why should you be green? If all the other packs are symmetrical then break symmetry.

IfThe elements of your pack are like actors on a stage. Each has a valuable role to play at different points in the performance. Packs need to work efficiently in 2 fields of view; from a distance as the consumer approaches the shelf and close up when they pick it up. Entice first, Educate second.

10. Have a big idea.

Probably the most important one. Successful packaging design has a big idea behind it. A clever hook. A story on which to convey the key points to the consumer and leave in their minds after they have put the pack down.

When done well, these big ideas can also have a life off pack in a brands communication strategy.

You can see some examples of how we have utilised the above to create the perfect packaging design, here. You can also find Slice’s Best Packaging Design on Design Rush.

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